Just like Jim Poss came up with the idea for the “Big Belly” – a way to improve upon the thrash collection system – while taking a walk in Boston or Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland while on vacation in an amusement park in Europe, entrepreneurs have a knack for seeing opportunity in places where almost no one else does. Most people don’t recognize opportunities when they come across them and as a result don’t achieve at the levels they want to in life. This is mostly because of the way they think. Even when an opportunity is staring them in the face, their thought processes don’t exactly allow them see these opportunities even when they are looking for them.
The methods employed by entrepreneurs like Poss and Disney are not unusual means of spotting opportunities. In our normal, everyday lives there are a myriad of business opportunities we can take advantage of if only we are to fine-tune our ways of thinking and try to think on the same frequency as these successful businessmen. One important trick is to not attempt to see opportunity in a void. Think in terms of real-world situations and people’s behaviors. This kind of thinking will not just show you one or two opportunities, but also let you constantly see opportunity in your everyday life.
The following points will help you spot the opportunities teeming around you.
- Find opportunities in the context of your environment:
The same way Jim Poss saw a problem around him and applied his knowledge of solar technology in finding a solution is how we should approach problems. Just like I said earlier, don’t try to find opportunities in a void or in areas too far from what you know or have experienced.
- Watch how others approach problems and find solutions:
There are infinite opportunities to learn from how people have already solved problems around you. Everywhere we find ourselves, there are problems that others have attempted to solve – some successfully, others not so much. Things like how malls have an atmosphere that encourages impulse buying can serve as inspiration when tackling another problem. Forming the habit of seeing solutions will help you when trying to formulate solutions of your own.
- Use solutions from one area to solve problems in another:
The founder of Starbucks Howard Schultz used this method to found the globally-known brand. When in Italy, he witnessed the Europeans’ affinity for local espresso cafés and how it was an important part of the people’s culture. He used he same concept – with some modifications, no doubt – in America and later took it other countries. Understand what makes ideas such as these work and what parts of it you will have to keep or discard if it is to work somewhere else.
William Arthur Ward said “Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” they are only around for a period of time and then they’re gone. There isn’t necessarily a moment that’s perfect for taking an opportunity, just take it when it presents itself. Like the famous saying goes “success is when opportunity meets preparation”. Being prepared is just as important as knowing how to spot an opportunity. However, if you have the right mindset, one missed opportunity wouldn’t mean the end. Richard Branson said “opportunities are like buses – there’s always another one coming. Just like there is always another sunrise, coming tomorrow.”